I had a rough year last year. Many things imploded on me. So at the insistence of my daughter, I went back into therapy, except I went for the wrong reasons and ended up with the wrong therapist, and that became another implosion. I was not happy.
However, half the job of becoming happy again is recognizing you have a problem and doing something about it, so I found another therapist, a great one this time. And she gave me a terrific coping strategy.
“You’re in a boat on a lake,” she said, “and you’re surrounded by alligators. There’s a big one on the shore, but your immediate problem is that there’s one trying to get into your boat. That’s the book that’s due next week. That’s your alligator. Deal with that, and then we’ll figure out the rest.”
I went home and got an upsetting e-mail. Ordinarily, that would have knocked me off balance for hours. This time I looked at it and said, “Not my alligator” and went back to work on the book. All week long, things happened that normally would have stressed me out, but they were not my alligator, so I just kept working which made me happy, and most of those other alligators went away on their own or went to sleep until I could get to them. And I turned my book in on Friday, right on schedule.
I have a new alligator now, and we’re getting to know each other, but the best thing about him is that he’s my only alligator, my Gator of the Week. I can handle him. The rest of them in the lake and that bastard on shore, the therapist and I are talking about them, we know they’re there, but once I get home, they can go back to sleep for awhile. Right now, I have this alligator in front of me, and I’m pretty sure I can take him.
My recommendation for happiness this week? Find your alligator.